NCEA 2018 President’s Awards Recipients Announced

Six President’s Awards will be presented at the NCEA 2018 Convention & Expo in Cincinnati.

Arlington, VA — The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) announces the winners of the annual President’s Awards to five individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to Catholic education. This year a sixth honor for special recognition has been added. The President’s Awards are given in the names of past NCEA presidents to honorees who model the characteristics that advance the mission of Catholic education.

NCEA President/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford, remarked, "By their example of living the Gospel, the honorees display the virtues taught in Catholic schools. These six people have influenced Catholic schools through their passion and commitment to Catholic education."

The President’s Awards are awards given in the names of individuals and organizations who display the significant virtues of contribution, support, leadership and development to impact Catholic education in the United States.

Dr. Merylann Schuttloffel, professor of educational administration and policy studies at The Catholic University of America, will be honored with the C. Albert Koob Merit Award. This award is given to an individual or organization that has made a meaningful contribution to Catholic education at any level in teaching, administration, parish religious education, research, publication or educational leadership. Dr. Schuttloffel’s exemplary guidance has produced graduates who serve in Catholic leadership positions around the country.

Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership of the Archdiocese of New York, will be presented with the John F. Meyers Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual or organization that has provided substantial support for Catholic education in the areas of development, public relations, scholarship programs, financial management or government relations. Mr. Virgadamo has worked in over 95% of the Catholic dioceses in the United States, and has guided schools, parishes and dioceses to raise more than $500 million in new funding through philanthropic giving, ensuring that schools' futures are secure through thoughtful strategic planning, improved governance organization and effective marketing.

John Elcesser, executive director of the Indiana Non-public Education Association, will be recognized with the Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award. This award honors a person or organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education. The right to choose the schools they believe best serve their children is a rallying cry for parents of modest means who, he argues, have a legitimate claim to public support. As a school choice advocate, Mr. Elcesser brings the unique lens of having served both as a private school leader and a public policy advocate. In Indiana, John was a leader of the coalition that successfully passed tax-credit scholarship and voucher legislation.

The Academy of Catholic Educators (ACES), which is based at Notre Dame of Maryland University, is the honoree for the Dr. Karen M. Ristau Innovations Award. This award is reserved for an individual, school or program that has furthered the mission of Catholic education through an innovative program or approach. In the five years since its inception the ACES program has grown to assisting over 30 schools in both the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to the point that there are more requests for services than time available for the current two instructional coaches. This program has changed the face of participating schools from whole group, teacher-centered instruction to engaged, student-centered instruction.

Mayra Alza Wilson, coordinator of Latino outreach for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, will be honored with the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award. This award is given in recognition of promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity or serves students with diverse needs. During Ms. Alza Wilson’s tenure the Latino population increased from 4.5% to 18.8% in the ten targeted schools of the urban core of Cincinnati and Dayton. These ten schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati experienced a 98% retention rate for Latino students for the 2015-2016 school year, 2% of the students moved out of the state.

This year, NCEA added a Special Recognition Award to be presented posthumously in the name of Dr. Stephen Phelps, former president of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. This award is in recognition and appreciation for 40 plus years of service and dedication to Catholic education and his tremendous impact on Catholic schools in the San Francisco bay area.

More information on the 2018 President's Awards is available online.

The NCEA Convention & Expo is the largest, private-education association gathering in the country. Participants come from many avenues of Catholic school education, including elementary and secondary school teachers, superintendents, principals, presidents and board members. The event features more than 230 professional development sessions, carefully prepared liturgies, networking events and an expo hall showcasing the latest educational products, services and technology, as well as new publications. The preliminary program and convention highlights are available online at www.NCEA.org/convention.

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the National Educational Association (NCEA) strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy. For more information, visit the NCEA website.